I read an article the other day that reinforced something that I really already knew. However it is so typical of human nature that we simply don’t like to think about the areas of our lives that need improvement. Out of sigh out of mind, that is until reality bites back and you have a shovel full of nasty heaped up in your life. However it really does not have to be that extreme. I know I can avoid dealing with the huge obstacles in my life with the best of of them. But what about the smaller issues, the stubbornness of my willful behaviors that I just chalk up to old age or even the more unpleasant label of lazy!
I have to share with all y’all that for as much as I struggle with my aversion to all things historical I can feel God’s magnifying glass bringing certain things very clearly into focus for me.
When I have a full grasp of exactly what the original hearers would have understood Jesus' words to mean they really do take on a whole different perspective.
First some facts that you may or not be aware of.
I copied this directly for an article that I read in gathering information for my class on Wednesday.
Check this out:
“On the first day of class the rabbi would take honey and would cover your slate, your personal chalk board, where you would write. Honey was a sign of God’s favor. There was nothing finer, nothing sweeter, nothing more full of pleasure than honey. And he would rub honey all over your slate. And then he would say, “Now class, lick the honey off the slate and off your fingers.” And so now you also can lick the honey off your fingers. And as you did this the rabbi would say, “May the words of God be sweet to your taste, sweeter than honey to your mouth” (Psalm 119:103). May the words of God be the most pleasurable, the most enjoyable thing you could even comprehend.
And so as a child you were introduced to the Scriptures as there was nothing more enjoyable in the entire universe than tasting, receiving , accepting the words of God and making them a part of your life. This is how Jewish boys were introduced to the Scriptures. From ages 6-10 they would memorize Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. By age 10 they had memorized the entire Torah and completed Bet Sefer.”
Read that last line again. By the age of ten years old a child had memorized the entire Torah!
Y’all the mind boggles at this little tid-bit of information. Ten years old, the entire Torah! It certainly puts my stubborn unwillingness to memorize scripture in a very different arena, willful disobedient is a more accurate assessment of my behavior. Having that image of the sweetness of honey in relation to God’s words just blows me away. When I think about memorizing scripture, confession here, the images I come up with relate more towards banging my head again a brick wall rather than enjoying the sweet taste of honey! Frustration, laziness, bemoaning and just plain willful disobedience is more like it.
As a child I was not raised in the church so I had no real foundation for who God was, I had never read the bible until I was almost 30 years old. The idea of having the entire Old Testament memorized is overwhelming. I’m 52 now and I have to take things in more manageable chunks. I am trying to get better at scripture memorization, is there room for improvement? I am laughing at myself as I think about this. The mental stumbling block in my short term memory is as massive as Mount Everest but with God all things are possible.
So am I convicted by this, the answer would be YES!
Setting my willfulness aside for a minute I continue, after the age of ten the children would move on to what is referred to as Bet Talmud.
“Now the best of the best students would continue on. The next stage was probably called Bet Talmud. Bet Talmud meant house of learning. Roughly from ages 10-14 in Bet Talmud you would memorize the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures all the way to Malachi. OK? By 13, 14 years of age you had the entire Hebrew text memorized. Even today in Jewish seminaries they still do this.”
After this comes Bet Midrash
“Now, at the end of your study at Bet Talmud, when you were around 13-14 years old, if you are the best of the best, then you would go and present yourself to a well-known respected, powerful rabbi. And you would say, “Rabbi, I want to become your disciple, your talmudeen, your student. Please let me in your Bet Midrash, your house of study.” And so the rabbi would say, “OK.” And the rabbi would ask you lots of questions, to find out if you are the best of the best. Because each rabbi wanted to teach his thinking, his philosophy, his interpretation of Scripture. Do you know what this was called? It was called his yoke. This rabbi wants to know, when he is questioning this possible disciple, “Is this boy able to become a rabbi himself and to teach and spread my yoke?” So the rabbi would ask all kinds of questions.”
And if the rabbi believed that you were the best of the best, that you were able to become a rabbi, He would say, “Lech Acharai – Come, follow me.” And you would leave your family. You would leave your family compound. You would leave your village. You would leave the local synagogue where you had been studying. You would leave everything and you would follow that rabbi. You would become a talmudeen, a disciple, a student. You would give your life to being exactly like that rabbi. And you would follow him everywhere.”
But here is the interesting part. Not everyone was chosen.
“But for some Jewish boys when the rabbis quizzed them they did NOT say, “Lech Acharai – Come, follow me.” But instead they said “Ah, my son, you do know Torah. And you know Torah well. But you are not able to be my talmudeen, my disciple, my student.” So the rabbi would say, “Go, home to your village. Make babies. Pray that they become rabbis. Go home and learn the family business - fishing, farming, carpentry. Because you won’t be studying to be a rabbi.”
Who were called to be Jesus' Talmidim? Did he choose from the best of the best?
Jesus was calling those who had been sent home to learn the family business.
Matthew 4 tells us that Peter and Andrew were……fishing!
MT 4:18 – 20
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
When I know the meaning behind the words they have a much greater impact on my life.
Jesus chose from those who had been rejected by the best of the best and look what happen to the world.
I don’t have to be the best of the best, I just have to keep trying. I still need to memorize scripture, but setting the goal of memorizing the whole bible before me is setting myself up for failure.
Jesus chose from those who had been sent home to learn the family business.
My choice to “Follow Him” is a decision to lead a life that is not of the world but I still have to live in the world. What better tool to have under my belt when facing the evil that the world throws at me than a ready supple of the truth of God’s word.
Y’all I know this already, I can hear it in my head…. “Bless her heart, she’s just as stupid as she can be……..”
Having been convicted afresh about my less than diligent practice of scripture memorization I recognize that I am a flawed and sinful
old woman who has a deep desire to grow closer each and every day to Christ.
Today I am thankful for grace, forgiveness and for the new opportunity I have every day to enter into His presence.
I love God’s Word y’all! I just doesn't get any better that that!
PS: I am not sure which is the correct spelling of Talmidim or Talmudeen, but however you spell it if you are a believer in Christ and you are following Jesus then you are Jesus’ Talmidim!